says policy came into effect, March 19
…Says intervention in pricing would continue due to marketers’ exploitative tendencies
…Laments rise in food prices, despite fuel price slash
By Michael Eboh
The Federal Government on Thursday clarified that it has deregulated the downstream petroleum industry, adding, however, that it would continue to intervene in determining the pump price of the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), also known as petrol, to safeguard consumers of the commodity from being exploited by oil marketers.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, stated that the deregulation came into effect March 19, 2020.
Sylva disclosed that the decision of the government to continue to intervene in fixing fuel price was as a result of the ugly experiences the government was having with oil marketers, who had deliberately refused to bring down the cost of diesel and other petroleum products whose landing costs had reduced.
He, however, bemoaned the fact that despite the slash in the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit, also known as petrol, the prices of food items and other commodity were yet to come down, but were instead going up, noting, however, that if the prices were increased by a little margin, prices of food items would have skyrocketed.
He said, “Deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector was approved on the 19th of March. What was announced on that day was already deregulation, However, PMS and kerosene are strategic to the country, hence, we cannot allow their prices to be determined wholly by marketers. Consumers had to be protected. This is what obtains globally.
“If we allow marketers to fix the prices of these commodities anyhow they like, it will not augur well for us. That is why we will continue to intervene in price-fixing. In the recent price-fixing, we allowed the marketers to get some profit, but we determine the price to protect consumers.
“Look at our battle with marketers. We brought down the price of PMS because the landing cost had come down, but the marketers had refused to bring down the prices of diesel and other deregulated commodities, even though their landing costs had come down also.”
He noted that if the PPPRA does not continue to interface with marketers in determining the prices of PMS, the oil marketers would fix the prices arbitrarily and exploit consumers.
According to him, PPPRA would continue to work with marketers in determining the prices to ensure that the best pricing is arrived at for the consumers.
He further noted that the government is aware that the price of crude oil would rise again shortly, which would also affect the pump price of PMS, stating, however, that government was already in the race to provide a cheaper alternative to PMS, in the form of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG).
No impact of fuel price reduction on food prices, others
He bemoaned the fact that the reduction in the price of PMS had not impacted prices of food items and, transportation costs among others, while he called on Nigerians to hold market players accountable when the price of PMS begins to rise again.
He said: “We have reduced fuel price, but the prices of commodities in the market are not going down. But if we increase, you will increase the price of PMS, the cost of these same items would skyrocket. Now, the market players should be held responsible to ensure prices do not go up inordinately while prices of fuel go up.”
Sylva further stated that the Federal Government was kick-starting the Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) penetration policy, June ending, hopefully, after the COVID-19 pandemic forced it to postpone the commencement twice, in April and May 2020.
In the LPG policy, he said the government was planning to set up 32,000 micro-distribution centres (MDC) for LPG, also known as cooking gas, across the country, and would see the engagement of 5,000 youths across the country, while the existing illegal roadside LPG dealers would also be inculcated in the programme.
He said the LPG penetration programme would create a lot of jobs in the country and would encourage more Nigerians to use LPG.
Award of acreages
Sylva further stated that the petroleum ministry had gotten approval from the Presidency for the award of marginal oilfields, which would certainly be conducted this year; while he noted that on the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) the Federal Government would conduct a major oil bid rounds, especially after issues surrounding the fiscals and other issues had been addressed.
He added that work had been concluded on the PIB, and the petroleum ministry was on the verge of presenting the bill to the President and the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for approval, before presenting the bill to the National Assembly.
port Harcourt refineries rehab
Also speaking, Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari, stated that there was a gradual easing of the crude oil glut issue, as uncleared transactions were now being cleared.
He also stated that the government was committed to the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt refineries, noting, however, that the COVID-19 pandemic had stalled work on the project, as it had hindered the mobilization of manpower needed to undertake the rehabilitation.